First-Aid: Self-Help for Treating Alcoholism, Angina, Arthritis and Blisters


This is a complex disease that is almost impossible to treat at home. If a member of your family is an alcoholic you will need help in order to lead a normal family life. Because alcoholism is a ‘family disease’, it has insidious effects which can be damaging to any or all of the family.


A severe pain in the chest, arms or neck caused by starvation of blood to the heart muscle. Treating angina is often easy because the person who suffers from it has usually been told what to do his doctor when the diagnosis was first made.

The problem with treating angina at home is that it is difficult (if not impossible) to distinguish between a really bad angina pain and a heart attack. Even doctors cannot always tell the difference without doing an electrocardiograph test. It someone has angina, sit him in a reclining position or lie him down; loosen any tight clothes; keep calm and help him to take one of his heart tablets. If the pain does not go within half an hour, or if he becomes ill, call a doctor.

The person who has the angina is usually the best judge of how he feels. If he is really ill with an episode, you will have to take over. Get an ambulance or a doctor if (1) he stops breathing or his pulse stops; (2) he goes very pale, sweaty or even blue; (3) he loses consciousness; (4) the pain goes on for more than half an hour after taking the angina tablets; or (5) he becomes very distressed.

Should it be necessary to call for an ambulance, tell the ambulance officer as much as you can about the person’s angina because in some areas there are specialised cardiac ambulances which they can send out. Simply saying “Dad’s collapsed on the sofa” tells them nothing.


Pain in a joint or joints. What you are to do depends on whether the pain has come on suddenly ‘out of the blue’ or has been with you for some time. Long term pain in the joints does not call for emergency action, but a painful, swollen joint of sudden onset can be very distressing.

Rest the part involved, take painkillers, apply heat to the area and see your doctor as early as you can.


These are produced by burns or by repeated rubbing and chafing of an area of skin. Under normal conditions, do not burst blisters because doing so increases the risk of infection. Simply cover them with sterile, dry dressings and leave them. However, should the blister be so awkward because of its position that it causes a restriction of movement and function, prick it carefully as follows. Wash the blister itself with antiseptic solution, sterilise a large needle by boiling it or passing it through a flame until red hot, keep the needle away from anything else while it cools, pierce the blister in two places at the base and absorb the fluid that emerges on clean, new, cotton wool or gauze. Cover the whole area with a dry dressing until healed.

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